FD's former CEO Charles Watson to chair controversial university college

The former CEO of City agency FD is chairing the controversial independent university college that was announced over the weekend.

Chairing controversial college: Charles Watson
Chairing controversial college: Charles Watson

Charles Watson, now global chairman of FD, will act as non-executive chairman for the New College of the Humanities (NCH), which has been criticised for its proposed fee level.

Independent communications consultancy Colman Getty is handling the media and PR for the new university college.

Professor AC Grayling, along with a group of leading academics, announced on Sunday the launch of NCH, based in central London, offering a new model of higher education for the humanities in the UK.

University lecturers and students have criticised the initiative, based on the private US-style university system, over concerns that it will add greater inequality in the UK education system. The fees to study at NCH are £18,000 a year for both UK and international students.

Commenting in The Guardian on Sunday, Sally Hunt, general secretary of the lecturers' association, said: ‘At £18,000 a go, it seems it won't be the very brightest but those with the deepest pockets who are afforded the chance.’

Commenting on the launch, which featured on the front page of The Sunday Times, Watson said:

‘Higher education in the UK must evolve if it is to offer the best quality experience for students and safeguard our future economic and intellectual wealth. New College offers a different model – one that brings additional, private sector funding into higher education in the humanities when it is most needed, and combines scholarships and tuition fees.’

‘As well as securing the highest-quality education for hundreds of students, we believe an independent university college, established right in the heart of London, will contribute to the long-term economic welfare of the capital, attracting students and professors who are contributing to the local economy as well as equipping our graduates for jobs in the service economy, such as the financial sector, professional services, the media and the creative industries, all of which are such vital contributors to the UK economy.’

Last week, PRWeek reported that Watson had co-founded a new marcoms group and acquired ad agency Karmarama and its offshoot PR venture Kaper.

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